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Shell to Penske, but what next for Richard Childress and Kevin Harvick?

  Kurt Busch getting a new sponsor for 2011 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Shell made it official Wednesday that it was moving its NASCAR sponsorship from Richard Childress' Chevy camp to Roger Penske's Dodge camp, moving the Shell/Pennzoil logos from Kevin Harvick to Kurt Busch, in a multi-year deal beginning in 2011.
    However much more remains to be laid out in the latest NASCAR shakeups.
   Busch gets a new car number in the deal, 22; his current number 2 is apparently going to become Brad Keselowski's next season, with continued Miller Lite sponsorship. Penske's third Cup driver, Sam Hornish, will be losing Mobil, part of ExxonMobil, because of the conflict with Shell. What happens next to Hornish and Mobil is unclear.
   Busch is also getting a new contract with Penske.
    It's also unclear what Childress and Harvick might do next. Childress has indicated he expects to keep Harvick in the fold with a new contract for 2011, but Harvick has said virtually nothing on that point. Harvick's options to move on, which he indicated last summer was likely, have narrowed, with Rick Hendrick's decision to hire Kasey Kahne, who could take a spot on the Tony Stewart-Ryan Newman satellite operation, or a spot with another Hendrick engineering satellite operation run by James Finch. Joe Gibbs had tried to put together a deal for Kahne to run on a new fourth Gibbs team, but either got outbid by Hendrick or opted not to sign Kahne without having a top sponsor in place.
    And intriguing angle is that Mobil last year signed a "technology partnership" with Toyota, which would seem a step toward becoming a full Cup sponsor, most likely with Gibbs. But who might get the nod to fill such a ride? And timing all seems odd, since Gibbs just lost out last week in a battle to sign Kahne, Gibbs indicating he didn't see solid sponsorship right now.
   Another angle: Justin Allgaier, Penske's newest find, and having a good season on the Nationwide series. He is already hearing questions about when he might step up – or be moved up – to Sprint Cup.
   Shell's sponsorship with Penske will also include Penske's Indy-car effort.
   Shell has apparently been shopping its deal around for some time, nearly a year. When Penske entered the dealing is unclear. And what led Penske to drop Mobil – a sponsor of his for nearly 20 years now – for Shell is also unclear.
    In other NASCAR news Wednesday, NASCAR officials announced penalties on four Cup teams for violations at Texas. The teams with drivers Max Papis, Marcos Ambrose, Davie Reutimann, and Martin Truex Jr.
    The Papis team, with crew chief Bootie Barker, and the Ambrose team, with crew chief Frank Kerr, were each fined $75,000 and placed on 'probation' will the end of the year. Their violation was apparently using extra-heavy oil pans under the engine, to help lower the car's center of gravity. Their team owners, Robert Germain and Tad Geschickter, were each penalized 50 points, and the drivers also each lost 50 points.
     The Reutimann team, headed by Rodney Childers, and the Truex team, headed by Pat Tryson, were each fined $25,000 and also placed on 'probation' till the end of the season.
    Reutimann and Truex are part of the Michael Waltrip team, and Ambrose and Papis have working relationships with the Waltrip operation.
    Cal Wells, of the Michael Waltrip team, said "NASCAR indicated we were running a part -- a radiator pan -- which had not been officially submitted for approval. 
    "We accept NASCAR's ruling and will not appeal because we cannot debate whether the part was submitted, only whether or not the part needed submission. 
    "This gives us a clear line of sight on how parts need to be submitted for approval."
   Geschickter called "the penalty...excessive for an apparent misunderstanding on submitting a part."
    However he added "We also understand NASCAR has to police the sport and rule strictly to keep a level playing field among the teams. We will work diligently to ensure that there are no misunderstandings in the future."

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   Brad Keselowski getting a new high-profile sponsor -- Miller Lite -- for 2011 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Considering the fines that

Considering the fines that were levy against the teams. Is it right to say that's a slap on the wrist compared to Carl Long's $200,000 infraction for a car that didn't even race? An exhibition race at that. These teams actually PARTICIPATED in a POINTS race.

damned straight. that carl

damned straight. that carl long thing still sticks in my craw. he got a raw deal from nascar. but then nascar never has cared much about the little guys, except to fill the field...or fill the press box now that newspapers are dead....

Mobil and Harvick to MWR?

The Mobil-Penske divorce is very odd; Penske has had Mobil sponsorship in both Nascar and especially Indycar for years. Here's a possibility, more than a possiblity in some quarters..both Harvick and Mobil to MWR for next season. All these early season moves do not help auto racing's credibility however. How would the NFL react if Tom Brady announced after three games into the season that he was joining Washington the following season? Or can you imagine Hendrick bound Kasey Kahne bumping Mark Martin or Jimmy Johnson into the wall and out of a Chase race this fall? Other sports prohibit free agent discussion until after the season and so should NASCAR even though fans love to follow all the off the track action perhaps more than the on track parades.

yes, i agree....must have

yes, i agree....must have been shell making roger an offer he couldn't refuse.....i hear he was late to the party, which shell apparently started last summer.....shell must not have liked all its other options....
and I certainly agree with the credibility issue for this sport....excellent point. i think maybe it should be like Jack did -- when you say you're leaving, hey, you're gone.

oh, KH and Mobil to MWR?!

oh, KH and Mobil to MWR?! Wow! Let me sit down and take a deep breath. I know KH made a pitch to Toyota last year, when Chevy pulled the plug on KHI, but the reception was cool. maybe the temperature has changed. RC seems to think he can keep KH, but I dont know.....without shell, that's a big hole in the pocketbook....

Long, Penske, Bootie, Harvick, Etc.

The Carl Long penalty vs. those imposed on the superteams like Hendrick and the trying-to-be superteams like Michael Waltrip Racing remains a black mark on the sanctioning body.

The sponsorship deals with Penske are interesting, and right now I cannot see any scenario where Sam Hornish remains in NASCAR. He clearly cannot handle stock cars and has shown zero learning of the subtleties involved, especially with Justin Allgaier providing greater potential.

I'm puzzled as to how Robert Barker, a crew chief who to my knowledge has never won a race in any major NASCAR touring series, is able to hold jobs outside of the media.

Kevin Harvick's future looks cloudy. He hasn't won a I-say-it's-still-Winston-Cup-and-that's-what-I'm-gonna-call-it race since the 2007 Daytona 500 and doesn't look all that high on the RCR depth chart anymore. That he went to Toyota and was rebuffed suggests there's something to him that's not kosher to anyone else.

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